My dear friend and brother, Dakukubie Adolphus Nibilagh Sunju Peterside, I know you to your Burusu in Opobo Town. I know your Opuwari. I knew you years back at Okarki Street in her glory years in down town Port Harcourt. Then we were both undergraduate students at the University of Port Harcourt and Rivers State University of Science and Technology (as the latter then was) respectively working out the future we wanted for ourselves.
Unknown to many, you were not the first Peterside I knew. To be very clear, my first acquaintance with the Peterside family was with Sody Peterside on the Floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Customs Street, Lagos. The year was 1989, shortly after my dear Mum had passed on April 24 but before my paternal grandmother passed on June 22. The late Olalekan Adesoye, who as a Youth Corps Commerce Teacher in 1988 at the prestigious Kalabari National College, Buguma, became my bigger brother of sort and career pathfinder introduced me to Sody and vice versa. Your cousin, Sody was at the time a Stockbroker with Citizens Trust while Lekan was at Mainland Trust. How I loved my seat watching trading proceedings on the Floor from the Gallery back then. I’m talking about an era an effervescent Rivers State technocrat of the Ibani stock held sway as the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Madam Ngozi was heavy in body mass as her presence in manning the capital market flank of the nation’s economy.
Politics from our student days only reinforced our friendship. You and Gabriel Pidomson Jr. made the Okarki list look like we were in some booth camp. We were bred to rush into the future that was unraveling before our post-adolescent eyes. Together and as a threesome, we ran PEN (Port Harcourt Evening News) from nowhere. You got Dianam Dakolo at the Institute of Foundation Studies of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology to chair the Editorial Board of PEN and we churned out an ambitious news medium from pre-Press at Tonye Ada-George’s Business Centre on the then thriving Mbonu Street in D/Line.
The windy and unwieldy transition to civil rule that begun from just about when we left secondary schools had been manipulated to a collapse by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1993. Chief Rufus Ada George had been removed from office as Governor of Rivers State and the great start to life we envisaged post-graduation had fizzled away like a dream of the night. But unbowed, unfazed and undeterred, the Okarki boys must move. And indeed we moved!!
That, in a nutshell, is what I can say about who you are. Who we are. I say so because even though Pidomson has ran his political races on other lanes outside ours from the 2003 to 2007 season upon his election to the Rivers State House of Assembly, he has remained focused and goals-driven. Dozie Ferdinand Nwankwo who was among the younger ones that followed us from behind has made it to the House of Representatives. You have been to the House of Representatives (2011-2015) and left to run for Governor. You had been a Commissioner for Works too from 2007 to 2011. I stand to be corrected, but with the exception of the Akeodi Oyaghiri group on the same Okarki, I doubt if any on the Ada George team (I am tempted to name it “political school”) has raised or inspired more political success stories as The Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has done.
This post is necessitated by today’s reality. I was nudged to make this public instead of addressing you privately for a single reason. Our dear State has been driven dangerously down the slope of political buffoonery. A class of politicians and political actors have emerged who trudge on without values. Rebellion has become an elevated emblem of political sagacity. All of social media is pockmarked with literature of benign minds since you addressed those who were at the Port Harcourt International Airport to welcome you home this morning. But like I wrote on the wall of George Azunda Kazi-Chinda, we can make do with some degree of sanity on this App. We are decent people and must drive our politics on the path of decency.
That’s the reason we’re educated people. Rivers politics must not be brewed in apostasy!! We fight only when it’s absolutely necessary. That’s the courage of conviction of Statesmen. Those who fight always against every contrary decision more often than not fight for nothing but self. Dr. Dakuku Peterside, you have proved that you are a thoroughbred Rivers man. You know what family means in politics. You have proven that you know who a prodigal son or mercenary is in the long run in a father’s house.
Just walk on and refuse the distractions. The future is still ahead of all of us.